The medical technology company Stryker Neurovascular has granted $1 million in funding to support stroke research conducted by Amrou Sarraj, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The UTHealth fellow is responsible for the development of a new method to determine the eligibility of a patient to receive intra-arterial therapy.
After concluding a residency and fellowship at UTHealth, Sarraj started studying patients that would react better to intra-arterial therapy, a common treatment for those who suffered strokes. This type of treatment consists of the mechanical removal of a blood clot that is obstructing the blood flow in the brain. During the procedure, a catheter is placed in the artery, however, only 30% of patients experience improved results from this procedure.
To address this, researchers began to develop a novel scoring method, called the Houston Intra-Arterial Therapy 2 (HIAT2) score, to help physicians evaluate the likelihood of a successful therapy. “Even if you open the vessel, there can be too much damage that has already occurred,” said Sarraj in a press release. “We need to be able to select the right patients.”
The new process has already won the investigator, who is an attending physician at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann, the Mordecai Y.T. Globus New Investigator Award in Stroke from the American Stroke Association (ASA) in 2012. The studies were recently presented during the ASA International Stroke Conference.
The method uses information on patients’ blood circulation flow, damage extent and age by the time they arrive at the hospital to predict which patients benefit the most from intra-arterial therapy. The funding will be used to conduct a multi-institutional study, called Optimizing Patient’s Selection for Endovascular Treatment in Acute Ischemic Stroke (SELECT), to assess the selection methods in use nowadays and compare them with the newly developed technique.
“This project has become all the more important as new published studies are beginning to show benefit of endovascular therapy for acute stroke,” said Sean I. Savitz, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the UTHealth Stroke Program and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center Stroke Center. “This grant represents the culmination of several years of research that Amrou has been doing. We are very proud of him.”
“Now that endovascular therapy is a proven treatment, future trials should assess strategies to enhance clinical outcomes and optimization of patient selection and SELECT will take the lead,” Sarraj said. “Informing stroke patients’ families on their chances of having good outcomes after intra-arterial therapy is crucial; we hope the study will bring an answer to that.”